So I’m curled up this morning, listening to the lack of school-run traffic as it’s the start of half-term and the sleeping Lady M is on her side, and for lack of a better word, cuddling her ample bosom.
Then she stirs, opens her eyes and says “Pi r squared..? Why am I mathing? Literally why have I woken with a head full of maths equations?”
I suggested she’d realised she was cuddling something and started working out the size of what she was embracing in her sleep. This led to the telling of an anecdote from her childhood about how her maths teachers had always been exasperated that she could handle expressing algebraic and geometric answers and ratios rationalising fractions and yet have a blind spot actually dealing with fractions.
I suggested that this was something of a recurring theme – getting the hang of complicated things but stumbling on the simpler building blocks: like negotiating through complex contracts but forgetting how large a door was so she broke her toe trying to walk through a wall.
The conversation may have deteriorated from there into a tickling competition…
It’s a good thing that I know Lady M so well – the night time mutterings have taken on what could be interpreted as a more sinister tone…
Last week I was reading in bed, and Lady M rolled over in her sleep and began cracking the knuckles of each hand. We’re not talking a lacing of hands here in some complex motion, but her thumb moving to the top of each finger in turn and pressing hard so the joints crack.
It’s impressive enough to see and hear when she’s awake and aware, but done in her sleep it becomes somewhat threatening. She claims to have no recollection of doing so, though there is a devilish glint in her eye when I mention it that repeats when she does it while awake.
I think it’s connected to her fibromyalgia in some respects – an ache in her hands that cracking her knuckles relieves as a sensation. It tells me how uncomfortable she is that she now does it in her drowsy/sleeping state. So while I do tease, it’s at least half tongue-in-cheek because I’d rather she didn’t have to.
Lady M was recounting a moment from her work day where all professionalism and reserve went out the day as banter and silliness in some downtime had people quietly chuckling. Although there are apparently new people in the wider team around her, they all seem to have started to get their ear in for when she adopts a new portmanteau word or malaphor inspired by her fibro-fog.
As such, hilarity abounds when they notice – and Lady M was happily telling me all about the various reactions and how they were “kinked with laughter”. Now she meant “creased up with laughter”, so the jump still maintains the same visual imagery, but I of course had to tease her.
“Kinked with laughter?” I said – “have they all discovered a tickling fetish?” And I advanced on her, miming a tickling motion that had her backing away and giggling uncontrollably. I couldn’t not pursue that tease, and our flat echoed with screams and laughter for some time…
Here’s one that I think everyone has experienced at some point or another. It might be with a partner, or a child, or a parent, or a co-worker but whoever it is they ask you to do something just as you’ve finished something and are sitting down for a moment’s rest. Most of us bite back a comment, maybe groan, and get back up. It’s part of the social contract that binds us to generally be polite.
Lady M has perfected this to an artform, and somehow manages to call out from the next room, often just after the point of no return where gravity has overtaken your muscles in the maneuver of sitting down. I’m pretty sure there’s a subconscious part of her brain that hears me clattering around and lets me get on with it, but then kicks a request out as soon as the noise stops.
I’m too polite to tell her to take a running jump, and it’s usually something minor, so I occasionally deploy a turn of phrase from my Welsh background. I call back “I’ll do it now, in a minute” – especially if I’m actually in the middle of something like replying to an email or something. It acknowledges the request and says there will be a short delay.
Sometimes that short delay overlaps with Lady M finishing what she was doing, so she comes in to do it herself, and swears it’s not a problem even as she bustles and huffs at high speed to do it. Sometimes I let her. Sometimes I tell her to bugger off and go sit down.
On special occasions there will come a flow of requests in a row as a stream of consciousness checklist forms in her mind. On those instances I tell her to hold up because I haven’t finished the first one yet, and this is taken in good grace, though it does occasionally turn into a timeloop back to the beginning of this writing piece.
This may sound like a gripe, or that I’m constantly being nagged but that’s not the case – partly because we throw requests at each other quite happily, but also because it’s alongside each of us getting on with things and occasionally asking for a helping hand rather than trying to farm jobs off at each other
There’s a meme doing the rounds with a picture of Thor from Endgame in it, and the caption: “to all the larger guys over the moon about seeing Thor in the movie: now you know how important representation in the media is and how good it feels.”
I was chatting about it with Lady M this morning and she chuckled and asked if I’d seen a recent picture of her and some colleagues in a meeting at work on her social media. In it there’s one man and several women, and she’d taken the picture to capture a rare moment in her workplace where there were more women managers than men.
Apparently during this lively and productive meeting, the guy had said he felt a bit scared being outnumbered, and Lady M told him: “now you know how we feel all the time.”
As he appeared to mull this, she invited him to contemplate how many women were managers in their department. And then to look out across the cubicles and see how many non-white faces he could see.
This apparently gave rise to some degree of introspection and understanding as to why Lady M felt it so important to capture the moment in a photo to share with others.
Representation is important. It gives people someone successful to identify with, to give them hope or inspiration. We all have people who inspire us, and sometimes we’re even an inspiration to other people without ever knowing it.
Lady M always gets embarrassed and a bit coy when people reveal that they admire what she does and how she does it – but the glow when it happens, and the renewed sense of purpose and achievement is a wonder to behold.
So if she inspires you, or provides a role model or representation for you, tell her. Hells, tell anyone that does that for you because it may be exactly what they need to hear in a moment of doubt.
The following anecdote is relayed with all the love in my heart, and has been giggled over at length – so I’m sharing here and hope it amused or sparks recognition:
So, I may have mentioned before some of the trials of attempting to read in bed while Lady M settles to sleep. The mutters and frowns in her sleep are a cause of many an eye-roll, but I have to admit I came close to annoyance this week.
On Wednesday, Lady M went up to London for a team meeting with drinks after, which gave me a quiet evening with Netflix and junk food. Once she was home, moderately tipsy, we went to bed and I read for a while.
The snoring began shortly after, gentle at first and then getting louder – mad more raucous by the gin consumed earlier. Soon it was so loud that Lady M startled herself semi-awake, and then peered in angry confusion at me before collapsing straight back to sleep with an indistinct mutter.
With a grin, I put my book down, switch off the light and snuggled down, though settling took a while as Lady M soon started snoring again. Eventually I was able to drift off…
…and then some time later woke up with someone’s fingers tapping my beard and lips. My brain woke more quickly than my body which is largely why there wasn’t a flailing response on my side to Lady M checking to see if I was snoring. I remember opening my mouth to protest only to have it firmly closed by my jaw being pushed back up.
Had she woken herself again and assumed it was me doing the snoring? Or had I been snoring? Neither of us knows, as I confirmed amid fits of Lady M’s horrified giggling the next day…
It’s a good job I love her…
The last couple of months have seen an interesting new evolution in how Lady M communicates with me in her sleep. She works long hours, and drives a lot, so is scrupulous about trying to keep a regular sleep cycle. As I usually take public transport and have regular bouts of insomnia, I have… a less regular sleep cycle.
I do try to go to bed around the same time – on the principle that my body can be resting even if my brain isn’t – and I often read, or do some doodling in bed while she sleeps.
And this is where the groaning comes in. You see Lady M is generally quite a light sleeper, so I think on at least some level she is aware of the light being on, and the movements I make if sketching or writing.
There comes a point where she starts to mutter and groan occasionally under her breath, or to sigh heavily (and what feels decidedly pointedly) as she begins to move her arms and legs and move around. Feet come in search of mine; arms rise, flail, and press down on mine to pin me. A faint frown appears as snores mix with groans, as if she’s trying to tell me to turn the light off even while she’s asleep… and it’s all rather cute, even when I’m trying to extricate myself to do just that and set my alarm.
I can’t get mad; it’s rather endearing, even when a sweeping arm knocks my book flying.
And even being in another room is no defence – if she registers that I’m in another room so as not to disturb her, she moans and groans and tuts louder until I take the hint and join her.
Of course, I have told her all about this, and tease her mercilessly. She feels no shame about it. Well, not much. Maybe the occasional blush…
So we were watching 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and a discussion began around mangled word usage. It’s a subject obviously close to our hearts, especially when they started to talk about the kind of mismatched phrases for which Lady M has become well known.
Somehow I had never encountered the word ‘Malaphor’ – which perfectly describes the phenomenon. We both grinned widely, high fived each other and promptly failed to spontaneously generate one in the moment.
Ah well, you can’t win your chickens before they’re all hatched. No? Okay, worth a try – there you go, a new word to describe Lady M – Queen of Malaphors.
We were chatting with a friend recently, recounting various stories of encounters and things observed – as we all do, don’t we – when she described how someone who was a little worse for wear prolapsed at her feet.
We all looked at her, horrified at the image she’d just painted. I struggled to recall the incident she’d been describing and ventured: “do you mean ‘poleaxed’?” After a moment’s thought she reconsidered and agreed that this was indeed the word she had been intending to use.
While both words involve things falling, she had intended to describe the subject of the story falling over, rather than their internal organs falling out.
She may have wished that person some degree of animosity, but certainly not to the extent implied by her first word usage. We’re occasionally quite harsh towards people who we feel deserve our opprobrium, but I’m pretty sure that a good hard prolapse is not a fate we’ve wished on anyone.
It turns out that Lady M is not the only one who gets their words in a befuddle from time to time – and so in the interest of fair play I present my contribution to the sort of babbling word play that our house regularly witnesses: the bacon sausage.
Now, the more culinary inclined are probably wondering why this is odd, after all I’ve enjoyed more than a few Bacon and Maple sausages from the local supermarket. In the grand tradition of this thread however, it was a portmanteau moment.
Lady M had asked what I was going to cook for breakfast, and I started to say “bacon sandwich”, before remembering that there was also sausages and black pudding in the fridge. I’d already said bacon and my mouth shifted straight to sausage.
Lady M’s quizzical expression led me to then very quickly babble about how bacon could be in sausage, and sausage was made from different cuts of the same meat as bacon and how one could be both but the other was unlikely to be the other one.
Then we laughed, in my case for the first time in weeks, proving the dark mood was shifting at last.
Maybe you had to be there…